Oh wow - how to get that camino thrill! I suggest setting off on a bicycle alone at about 8 pm without any cash, no map, and no drink. Decide on a short ride, then within yards of leaving the house decide to go further, and then when you get there, decide to go further still to get a picture of a particular view http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/thornton-abbey-and-gatehouse/. Then decide to go home another way, until a familiar landmark is getting further away and you know this road doesn't lead home. Turn round - it's getting dusky - and pedal like mad to get back to where there's a cycle track - thank goodness for my lights - and find that headlamps from oncoming traffic make the path disappear, and it's only wide enough for one cycle, prickly hedge on one side, posts or high kerb on the other. Best fuel all of this by calling in at a pub in your money-less state and ask for a glass of water - and another one please.
Last year was a safe-feeling day (I think they all WERE compared to the above) if a gruelling one. Castrojeriz a striking town on a hill, seemed a bit deserted at the time of day we went through. Climbed another hill and began descent to a lot of meseta (the plain) - but my first thought was - oh-oh! No bushes for miles! Better make use of this scrubby hillside. I read somewhere about how bad it was that some pilgrims were 'using the camino as a toilet', and I can't quite see how we were meant not to, short of them putting up Tardises everywhere; and what a culture shock in that respect to find back at home that people are walking IN BOTH DIRECTIONS on a path! People only walk the camino one way, which makes some things a lot easier.
Arrived at Boadilla to find a small outdoor swimming pool. Fully intended to have a dip, but by the time we got checked in, the weather turned even more chilly, and in the energy-depleted state in which one arrives at the end of the day, I think it might have been fatal if I had. Instead, I huddled round a log-burning stove wearing a duvet, fell asleep on a rare sofa, though there was some energetic French man talking very loudly all the while, which took the restful edge off it. HOW do they do it? We were shattered.
|The view from the boy-bike, 12th May 2011|
Went to a mass that eve with Juan Pablo; all prayed the Lord's prayer simultaneously in our own language - though the surprise of not following the Spanish crib-sheet we brought meant I never caught up; I'd forgotten the English version already. Juan Pablo prayed 'for those who do not know their Lord who leads them'. I liked the idea that God is leading all the pilgrims, even the many who are secular in intent; there was a generosity in that attitude that I warmed to. So often one hears Christians wanting to deny the label 'Christian' even to people who profess it.
|But I wanted a swim!|
|The much-loved Dom Juan Pablo is 2nd from the left.|